Social media can teach us some interesting things. Not everything is good or even true, but occasionally I come across a valuable nugget of information that’s of benefit. This happened to me when I read a post explaining, “Why your dog sits with you while you’re using the restroom.” Having a family pet that does this made the posting all the more appealing. The post asserts (and I later confirmed through research) that it’s in a dog’s very nature to run with a pack. Consequently, within the pack environment, when a dog begins to do their business, the pack keeps a guard out for them, protecting them in what they know naturally is their most vulnerable moment. When our family dog sits at our feet or stands in the doorway during our “most vulnerable moment” they are protecting us, just as they would their pack. Because in essence, we are their pack, and depending on your relationship in said pack, you may even be the leader.
Upon learning this, it changed my whole perspective on the perceived annoying habit our dog was displaying. Once I fully understood that she was merely protecting me, I saw the situation differently. I appreciated her concern for my welfare, even though I preferred not to have the company at that moment. I also began to notice her tendencies at other times as well. For instance, whenever I sit in our family room by myself watching television, my dog, (female Maltese, by the way), if she’s not in my lap, will sit directly in the walkway leading into the room facing away from me and toward the entrance. I realized she’s still watching out for me. She does the same for my wife in this situation.
To prove her unconditional love for my son as well, whenever my wife and I leave to go out and my son is in his room, if our dog isn’t in there with him, she sits quietly in front of his door facing outward. Again, she’s keeping guard over him even when he’s not watching.
To see her do this for my family and to understand her genuinely good intentions, I have to admit, does strengthen the bond between us even more. It also reminds me of a story my mom used to tell about a Labrador retriever she and dad had before I was born. Mom worked the second shift at the time, and dad said every night about the time Mom was to come home, Kippy (their dog) would scratch at the door to go out. He would then proceed to sit at the end of the sidewalk waiting for mom to pull into the driveway. At which point, he would politely walk beside her and be her security in the night as she walked in the house. He did this every time without fail, regardless of the weather. Now that’s protection!
As for our beloved family pet, she’s getting older now. She doesn’t run around and play quite as much as she used to, and though she enjoys it immensely, she does get tired after her routine trips to the park. This makes me appreciate all the more the effort it must be for her to constantly feel obligated for our protection. So when I take her out in the yard to do her business now, and she turns to look at me in her most vulnerable position, I make sure to place myself between her and the road, thus giving her that same feeling of protection she gives us, letting her know that we’re also looking out for her.
When treated appropriately, a dog’s love is unconditional. It’s that unconditional love that makes them such a valuable part of the family. Remember this the next time they’re under your feet or blocking the doorway when you leave the room. It’s just their way of keeping you safe.
Lastly, I want to dedicate my column this month to Annie. She was an adorable Maltese that belonged to my cousin, and the very thing that motivated me to get one for my family. She passed away peacefully last year after living a long, happy, and adventuresome life. She got to go everywhere with my cousin and his family. She made a lasting impression on me as well, and we miss her. Here’s to Annie!
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